The Project Manager Blog


Solve Project Puzzles The Sherlock Holmes Way

I was reading Sherlock Holmes the other day – I thought it would be interesting to go back to the original books that I read as a child since the fictional detective seems to be on the television and big screen frequently at the moment. I love detective stories and Sherlock Holmes does seem to be able to unpick some big problems. His approach to solving cases, whether it’s a murder, a piece of lost jewellery or something a bit more out of the ordinary, is very similar to the approach we take on projects when it comes to diagnosing and resolving issues. So here is my guide to solving ...

Risk Management 101

“How am I supposed to know what’s going to happen?” one of my more junior project colleagues asked me the other day. “I don’t have a crystal ball.” There have been many times on projects where I have wished for that crystal ball and the ability to be able to see into the future. I could have prevented lots of problems with one of those! But unfortunately project managers aren’t blessed with second sight and we have to make do with risk management processes instead. Risk management might seem a lot like guessing what the future will bring, and essentially that’s what you are ...

How To Say No!

Saying no is one of the things that I am really not very good at. It’s in my nature to want to be helpful, so when my colleagues ask if I can do this task for them, or go to that meeting for them, I inevitably end up saying yes, even when I don’t want to. As a result, over the years my own project work has suffered as I try to fit in things for other people. It isn’t a sensible way to work and this year I have resolved to be stronger and to say no more often! But how can you do it and not seem awkward or unhelpful? I have been doing some research about the best ways to politely refuse...

57 Things We’re Thankful For at

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States this week. To celebrate our new US location (we’re expanding our global presence with an office in Austin, Texas), we are listing the many things that we appreciate. Feel free to comment and tell us what would be on your list. Here are the 57 things we’re thankful for here at Good health Friends and family Happy customers Pets Coworkers with a sense of humor Learning from mistakes A good night’s sleep Breathing fresh ...

5 Ways To Keep Your Team Motivated

Have you heard the anecdote about the janitor at NASA who was asked by President Kennedy what he was doing and replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon”? That’s one motivated individual with a clear understanding of the organization’s goals! How many of your project team members would respond in a similar fashion if the CEO asked them what they were working on? Keeping your team motivated so they feel inspired to respond in that kind of way is part of the project manager’s job, but it can feel very difficult sometimes. When your project hits a problem, or your issues log i...

How To Add Contingency Time To Your Schedule

Contingency time is what you build into your project in case the project tasks take longer than you expect. I’m often asked what amount of contingency time is appropriate to build into your schedule and I’m sorry to say that I’ve never come across a scientific, foolproof method of calculating how much extra time you should add to your project. The answer, unfortunately, is always: “It depends.” Factors to consider include the level of confidence that the project manager and project team has in the task estimates, how complex the project is, whether or not the company has any exper...

It’s Official: Risk Management Improves Project Success

Managing project risk well is essential if you want your project to be successful. Your project is more likely to succeed when you use risk management. We’ve got the data to prove it. Over 30,000 people around the world use and analyzing the results from real projects shows us that 78% of successful projects use risk management techniques and tools. It’s definitely a technique that you should be using on your projects. Whether you use a spreadsheet that you created yourself or an advanced risk management monitoring tool, the basic principles of risk management are the...

Help! I Made A Mistake!

We’re not all perfect – in fact, none of us are! Even that manager you admire from afar, the one who never makes any mistakes on her projects and is always on top of the issues. You can bet that actually she has weaknesses and her projects hit problems just like anyone else; she’s maybe just that little bit better at disguising them than you. One of the things that sets a great project manager apart from a good project manager is the ability to deal with problems and resolve issues as they arise. But before you can do that, you first have to accept that there is a problem. That’...

There Is No Meal Without the Turkey: Manage Your Critical Path

Your team sits around the table and they look at you expectantly. You’ve got a 200-line project plan displaying on the wall and you’re going through the progress this week. Everyone takes their turn sharing their status and then someone says, “I’m really tight for time next week. What are the most important things on the schedule that I should be focusing on?” An unprepared project manager might struggle to answer that question and resort to looking at the tasks with upcoming deadlines. But you’re not unprepared, are you? With a few clicks you bring up the critical path a...

Better Problem Solving in 5 Steps

Watching reality TV programs like The Apprentice makes me wonder why they don’t teach project management in schools! It’s often funny to watch people try to solve problems without any idea of how to get the best result. It normally ends in disaster, and if you are anything like me you’ll be shouting at the television by the end, offering the contestants ‘helpful’ advice about how to get things done effectively. Even cooking shows make me impatient: the participants always seem to be in a rush at the end to get their dishes out. Why don’t they plan their time better? Of course, r...
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